Human Health Hazards

Possible effects on human and environmental health also span a broad spectrum. The nearly uninhibited movement, activity, and reactivity of hazardous chemicals in the atmosphere are well established, and movement from one medium to another is evident. Hazardous wastes may enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, dermal absorption, or puncture wounds.

Human health hazards occur because of the chemical and physical nature of the waste, and its concentration and quantity; the impact also depends on the duration of exposure. Adverse effects on humans range from minor tem porary physical irritation, dizziness, headaches, and nausea to long-term disorders, cancer or death. For example, the organic solvent carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) is a central nerve system depressant as well as an irritant and can cause irreversible liver or kidney damage. Table 11.3.1 shows the potential effects of selected hazardous substances.

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